Susan Marie Molloy

🌺 Life in the Oasis 🌴


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BOOK REVIEW: “The Creature from Cleveland Depths”

Last week I read a novelette written in 1962 by Fritz Leiber called, “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” and not only did I learn a lot from this story, but also about its author.

Fritz Leiber (1910-92) coined the term “sword and sorcery” fantasy stories, and he is regarded as one of the fathers of that genre. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Fritz Leiber, Sr. (also born in Chicago, 1882-1949) was a Shakespearean actor and played in a few movies. In fact, he was in “Samson and Delilah” (1949) which I watched and reviewed on my recent blog, “At the Movies: ‘Samson’”.

Returning to Fritz, Jr. — He wrote a lot of science fiction and the sword-and-sorcery type of short stories and books. Lately, I read quite a few of his works, and when I read “The Creature from Cleveland Depths,” I was surprised at how modern it is, even though it was written 56 years ago.

Here, in a world where people live underground, we get a glimpse into our future, which is now our present: social media, smartphones, drones, and a crazy invention called the “Tickler”, which everyone wears on his shoulder. It speaks through an earpiece. It sends a little tickle through one’s body as it indoctrinates positive thinking, injects drugs, makes decisions for people, reminds people to do certain things, et cetera. Over a short period of time, people become mindless zombies/robot-like beings.

I got a kick out of the scene where individual-servings of martinis in carboard boxes (much like single servings of wine and cocktails in glass bottles we see on today’s store shelves) are offered. Moreover, the mindless fads in this story mimics today’s fads, including one where boys and girls both wear full face makeup, much to the chagrin of the police.

This is a good, fascinating, and quick-reading story that you can pick up for nothing on Amazon Kindle. It was one of the best stories I read last week, and a little creepier that any of the Dick Tracy comics I used to read when I was a kid. But then, that two-way wrist radio Tracy wore—

Yesterday’s fiction is today’s truth.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Joy in February, Joy in Lent, and Just Plain Joy!

In a way, this was a slow week for me, and that was nice. I got over the flu thing pretty much from all the rest I took. Yay.

While I rested, my Kindle was busy serving me up with a lot of short stories and poems. It made for good reading, even on those nights I couldn’t fall asleep. It’s surprising how many good works I found from new authors. So, resting can be productive in its way.

We took The Chariot (our car) in for its routine oil change, and on the way back home, we finally stopped at the little Polish Deli near our cottage. I was in Heaven! I picked up some fresh kiełbasa, a link of kiszka, and two pounds of pierogi (one with kapusta and one with cherries).The lady at the Polish deli seemed to be tickled pink at my excitement at finding the deli. Truthfully, it’s difficult to find anything Polish (food, culture, et cetera) where we live now, in the South. Back home in Chicago, you’d have no problem at all. I’m all Polish; by the way, it’s part of my heritage, and I like keeping up with my family’s traditions.

I felt a little girlish, a lot giddy, and so darn overjoyed that I now have a place to get the foods I normally don’t make at home from scratch. I can make the pierogi, but I’m looking for a good kiełbasa recipe (and the sausage attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer).

On Valentine’s Day, we got a lovely card from my aunt. Not a bad return on the LOVE. I talked with her for a good hour – so much to catch up on! – and my beau and I had a quick lunch at the country club that’s just down the street from our cottage.

Anyway – it was a good week, and I hope yours was good, too.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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BOOK REVIEW: “True Grandeur: A Hollywood Novel”

When I began reading “True Grandeur: A Hollywood Novel”, by Cal R. Barnes, I didn’t expect to become captivated by the story and the characters, let alone read the entire book in one sitting without a break. Yet, that is exactly what happened.

True Grandeur” is the narrative of Conrad Arlington, a talented, youthful writer who moves to Hollywood and regards himself as The Last True Artist. As he is working on developing his career and honing his art in Hollywood, he meets Gracie Garrison, and it’s love at first sight for him. She is pure, she is perfect, she is everything. However, she is emotionally elusive and mysterious, and has rules (“Don’t ask me questions.”). After Conrad and Gracie spend an evening together, an evening where she asked him out to attend party after party and meet the most unusual, quirky people and a quite large cherry with eyes, Gracie disappears for months with the unlikeable Maxwell Price. Conrad embarks on a pursuit to find her, but instead finds gossip about her and confusion of who people think she is, if they have any inkling at all.

The story follows to a denouement that not only finally reveals the true Gracie, but Conrad’s epiphanically realization of who he is and what it really was that he was pursuing.

True Grandeur” has rich and well-developed characters, and it wasn’t long before I cared about who each was and which direction each might take in their lives. As an homage to Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” I saw similarities in “True Grandeur” between Conrad Arlington and Jay Gatsby, Gracie Garrison and Daisy Buchanan, Evie Clark and Jordan Baker, and Maxwell Price and Tom Buchanan, et al. But these aren’t just more modern-day reincarnations of Fitzgerald’s cast moved from New York to California; these are characters that can be anyone, anywhere, in any place, but they – Conrad, Gracie, Evie, Maxwell, et al – are the personalities that were created for and belong in “True Grandeur.”

I was impressed on how well Evie was portrayed: cool, aloof, an expert at eye rolling and looking vacuous into nothing, cautious of who she may or may not let past her emotional wall. Benjamin Trask is an interesting character who knew things, but didn’t, too, and the scene where he and Conrad meet at the hotel and drinking liquor is memorable. I can still hear the clink-clink-clink of the ice in their glasses.

Then there is the devilishly delightful Bobby Finch the art dealer with his high-pitched voice and fashion statements; boozy Alice and her eight-foot Chester the Cherry; other supporting characters; the Hollywood area street and neighborhood references; and the nonchalant mentioning of films, directors, writers, and novels. The mentioning of places, people, and media are artfully done, that is, they didn’t come across as a litany of cultural and pop knowledge by the author, but rather, as important additions to the settings, the conversations, and overall story narration.

What struck me the most is the author’s dexterous talent to be able to write (what I believe as) streams of consciousness without being overtly recognizable as streams of consciousness. In fact, these passages are tightly controlled and easily carry readers over and though and around Conrad’s struggles and frustrations with his emotions. This is not an easy task in writing, yet Cal R. Barnes proves that it can be done, and be done well.

Additionally, the author has such skillful writing talent that he did not have to use any vulgarity in this story. That’s right – not a vulgar curse word to be found on any page. To be able to write without tossing in four-letter words shows a respect for readers and intelligent command of the English language, in my opinion. This book reads (or rather, it made me think of) old classic movies that showed love scenes, but the bedroom door closed on the audience before a slipper was even kicked off the foot.

There are a few – very few – spelling errors sprinkled throughout the book, so maybe another run-though by the editor would put the final polish to this remarkable and magnificently-written story of love, maturing, evolving, and searching for one’s self.

I highly recommend “True Grandeur: A Hollywood Novel” ten out of five stars. Yes, you read that rightit’s that good.

I received a copy from the author, Cal R. Barnes, wherein he asked if I would read “True Grandeur” and give my honest review. Thank you, Mr. Barnes, for thinking of me to read and review your book.  Every part of this article is my own opinion.

Now, go out and get your copy!

You can also read my review of “True Grandeur” and other books:

Goodreads – Susan Marie Molloy, Author
Amazon – Susan Marie Molloy, Author


True Grandeur: A Hollywood Novel
Author: Cal R. Barnes
Pages: 281
Published: September 20, 2017 by Magic Hour Press

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Sometimes, When You’re Not Looking—

I have an outlook on life that the more interesting and more fulfilling things happen when you aren’t looking for that “certain, interesting thing” or for something you just “gotta have.” I believe that sometimes you don’t find what you’re looking for when you’re too focused on something. It spins your wheels, and sure, maybe you get what you think you wanted, but maybe it’s like the Rolling Stones tune, “You can’t always get what you want–but . . . sometimes . . . you just might find you get what you need”.

Example: My long glamorous career came about one day when a lady came to my high school in my senior year to recruit office help for the organization she worked for. My girlfriends wanted to get out of Latin American History class and talked me into it. So, we were excused from class, and off we went to our homeroom to meet the lady to see about a job. Two days later, the lady called me. I landed the job, which turned into a decades-long career. I wasn’t actively looking for a job–I thought the military would be an option—even though graduation was still three months away.  But my career turned out to be travel, benefits, meeting some well-known muckety-mucks, and a solid retirement.

Example: I wasn’t looking to find a nice guy and get married. I was just living my life, believing that que sera, sera. And quite by accident or Kismet, on an average day with 24 hours in it, I met my beau, and he turned out to be the man I was hoping one day to marry and spend my days with. We’ve been together for 12 years, married for (almost) six.

So, today, this leads to my latest “Hey, I wasn’t really looking, but look at the cool stuff happening!” story.

Earlier this year, Jeanie Franz Ransom, a children’s book author, e-mailed me with a copy of her book, “Cowboy Car.” I won it in her giveaway. She asked if I would read and review it. Sure; I’d love to. And I did.

Now in the past couple of months, I had the honor of being asked by several other authors to read their books and give my straightforward reviews. They e-mailed me directly. They sought me out. Nice! (blush)

I am absolutely delighted at being asked by other authors for my opinions and views on their works.

It’s enjoyable, and I am thrilled to gladly do my part that I hope will help authors.

Thank goodness I am a big reader, too!

To see my reviews on these particular books the authors themselves asked me to read and review, click on the links below. Maybe you’ll find something here you’d like to read.

📚 For Grown-Ups:
Subway People by Martin Turnbull
The Trouble with Scarlett by Martin Turnbull
The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up by Jacob M. Appel

📚 For Kids:
Cowboy Car by Jeanie Franz Ransom
Theo the White Squirrel by Robert W. Fuller
Meg & Rob’s Witch Tricks: Book 2 – No Win with a Twin by Daniel Shneor

📌 My Reviews Coming Soon in February (Books for Grown-Ups):
True Grandeur: A  Hollywood Novel by Cal R. Barnes – posted on my February 1, 2018 blog
A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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BOOK REVIEW: “Gift from the Sea”

This past Sunday, I shared one of my “Morning Meditation” photographs with you, a simple one of a trio of brown pine cones laying hither and yon on a forest floor in Bushnell, Florida. Cynthia Reyes, author of “Myrtle the Purple Turtle,” commented how it reminded her of a quote from one of her favorite books, “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindberg: “. . . they are more beautiful if they are few”.

That made me want to re-visit Lindberg’s works, so I borrowed a copy of “Gift from Sea” (1955) from archive.org. It took me all of one small portion of my evening to read and relish the 142 pages or so.

It’s been a long time since I read anything by Lindbergh (I believe what I read of hers once was a reprint of her writing in a magazine in the 1970s; it was something like that), and I was happily surprised (again) at the clarity and power in her words, so succinctly put, yet saying a lot.

The book focuses on women mostly, and the changes that go with every phase of adult life: marriage, children, homemaking, children leaving home, wondering who is sitting across the breakfast table once the kids are out of the nest. She also explores the most-sought after: peace, solitude, contentment, youth and age; love and marriage.

She lamented how people were drifting apart, and more-so as the world was becoming more connected and modernized. Sounds like today, doesn’t it? —

Here in “Gift,” she placed correlations between sea shells she found on a beach, and roles in society. Moreover, how she understood and believed how men’s and women’s traditional roles were crucial to a healthy society and strong families, were well thought out and logical. Additionally, her thoughts on having less material possessions and focusing on relationships, introspection, peace, and balance in life makes sense.

One of my most favorite parts is where she speaks to time and tranquility: “. . . time to be quiet . . . time to think . . . time to watch the heron . . . Time to even, not to talk” and how some people feel there is a need to always fill silence with chatter. There is something very true to what she wrote; there is nothing wrong with being quiet at times.

Lindberg’s writings in nascent thinking is worth exploring, and I recommend picking up and reading this surprisingly sensible book.

Thank you, Cynthia, for reminding me of Lindberg’s works. I really enjoyed “Gift from the Sea.”

For more of my book reviews, I’m on Goodreads.  Thank you for stopping by.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.